En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 29, 2010

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Shrubs for erosion protection in Arlington TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live on Johnson Creek in Arlington, Tx. We have recently had to move our fenceline in because the erosion on the creek has collapsed a portion of our retaining wall. I would like to plant something on the outside part of the fence to help hold the soil, provide privacy, grow large, and require little maintenance (evergreen). I was thinking about red tip photinias. What do you think? The fence is on the west side of the property. It might be considered a "partly sunny" area. Even though it's on the west side, the fence would block the morning sun, and during the latter spring and summer, the trees on the creek have a lot of foliage. Thanks for your time!

ANSWER:

Having lived in Arlington some time ago, for 38 years, this particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants team is aware of the situation on Johnson Creek, although we were not personally affected. As we recall, some homes were actually removed because they were threatened by erosion. It would seem that the heavy rains that North Central Texas has had this year has renewed that threat. This may not be a problem that plants can solve, but we will try to make some suggestions.

The first thing we will recommend is that you NOT use red tip photinias.  The red-tip photinia is non-native to North America, originating in the Far East. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. Native plants are recommended because they are adapted to an area's soil, rainfall, heat (or cold), and so require less water, less fertilizer, less maintenance. Here is a quote from a Mississippi State University Extension Service Red-tip Photinia Almost Eliminated

"Red-tip is highly susceptible to the fungal pathogen known as Entomosporium that causes leaf spots and ultimately defoliation. The disease has all but eliminated Red-tip from the list of recommended shrubs for Southern landscapes. In fact, the disease is so widespread that one plant pathologist jokingly explained that there are two types of Red-tip, those that have the disease and those that are going to get it!"

Ordinarily, we would recommend native grasses to help prevent erosion, but you know your property better than we do, so we will try to find some evergreen shrubs that will do all right in part shade, which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. We will go to Recommended Species, click on North Central Texas, and select on "shrub" under Habit, and "part shade" under light requirements. This search only yielded 4 plants that filled all your specifications. If you wish, you can repeat this search procedure and make selections of your own. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that particular plant to learn more about it. You should probably select these shrubs and plant them soon before the extreme heat of the summer gets here, to prevent transplant shock.

Shrubs for Arlington TX:

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Cephalanthus occidentalis

Ilex vomitoria

Mahonia trifoliolata

Morella cerifera

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for a sunny, dry slope in NY
March 01, 2010 - Looking for plants, native to area, that are quick growing to a height of approximately 6" to 12" for a steep slope comprised of shale in a sunny location.
view the full question and answer

Possibilities of plants for bank shale ledge in Johnstown, PA
April 20, 2008 - We have a mountain that we ripped out to build our house. The remaining ledge is mostly bank shale and everyone is telling us that nothing will grow on the hillside due to it being bank shale and a p...
view the full question and answer

California native plants for a steep slope
May 29, 2010 - We are looking for California native plants for a steep south facing slope that do not attract bees. Can you please provide a list?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs and small trees for a slope in NY
May 21, 2012 - We are looking for a living wall made of shrubs / small trees - no more than 25' for the top of a steep creek bed. We are looking for the best erosion preventing types.
view the full question and answer

Erosion control plants for steep slope in Austin, TX
April 09, 2007 - I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. These plants would be in a park, and volunteers will be watering the pl...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center